How to Ferry Turboprops from America to Europe

Ferry Flight Adventures share a recent trans-Atlantic adventure requiring the delivery of a TBM 700 and Piper M600 from the USA to France, with many stops at amazing locations along the way.

AvBuyer  |  11th June 2021
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    Ferry Flight Adventures - America to Europe

    Ever wondered how turboprops such as Daher TBMs and Piper M600s are transported to new customers thousands of miles away. Flying Smart takes it further, also offering the owner of a new TBM the experience and adventure of a cross-Atlantic flight...

    Different equipment makes these trips either a routine flight, an experience, or a real adventure. I am right at the junction of what could be considered “an experience” but verging on “adventure” flying, in high- performance single-engine turboprops.

    It’s a great balance — more comfort and one would lose the excitement of the adventure; while less comfort can be a real challenge, with much less protection offered.

    Flying at 300 knots in the high twenties or low thirties (thousands of feet), as well as being able to go sightseeing at amazing locations with smaller runways — such as the UNESCO- protected Illulisat in Greenland (or travelling straight from Iceland to Canada if the weather rules out Greenland) — gives you the best of both worlds.

    Flying Smart

    Before starting Flying Smart (we are the TBM distributor for the UK and Piper dealer for France), I had already done about 40 transatlantic crossings in our own TBM. This provided me with a solid base to plan some more with our clients, not only for their delivery at purchase (like on this occasion) but also during trips we organise for owners.

    Both cases are very rewarding. A new owner flying his brand new TBM across the Atlantic usually falls in the adventure category for most. Equally, being a group wingman on trips with a handful of high-performance turboprops is something I really enjoy. I can always see the pride, joy and memories these journeys build for the families traveling with us and this is priceless.

    Besides these enjoyable social times (if you remember what this is!) transatlantic flying is also for me a selfish journey. Ask any ferry pilot if they would rather be alone, and I bet most would agree. 

    I am generally with at least one to three souls aboard, but I always take a bit of time to myself to reload with the energy and inner peace that remote parts of the world nourish you with. 

    They are very scenic, powerful and serene at the same time and despite multiple trips, I have not grown bored with it. I have actually grown fond of these magical lands (such as Greenland) and their people too. The harshness of the climate (despite its change) still commands a sense of help, care and attention to others.

    I have been lucky to fly there with loved ones including both family and friends, and I am hoping in a couple years to fly with my young daughters. The experience has created a strong impression for all of them. I also have built long- lasting friendships with many of the owner-pilots I have flown with along this bonding route.

    Added Challenge

    We are currently faced with extra administrative restrictions and burden to fly these routes due to COVID. This has obviously reduced the number of leisure flights and a sense of being slightly privileged as our line of work is part of the exceptions. However, where possible we still have fun while working!

    On this current trip, we came to pick up two airplanes: A pre-owned TBM 700 in Connecticut and a brand-new Piper M600 SLS in Florida. We flew on the airlines with two crew from Europe to New York, met up with the TBM owner, took delivery of the first aircraft, and then flew down to Florida — which was a good test before crossing.

    The new Piper owner had flown straight to Miami, so we all enjoyed a night out in Miami Beach and a quick trip to the Keys before the test flight for the M600 the next day.

    We flew up to Boston for a family dinner and spent the night. The next morning, we made a fuel stop in Goose Bay, and although we had enough range to reach Iceland we decided to make a stop in Greenland to do some sightseeing before going to Reykjavik, where we had organised a late private dinner at our hotel to meet COVID rules.

    After a good night’s sleep, it was a straight flight to Belgium where we cleared Customs and went home. So it had taken two days to go from the USA to Belgium going against the sun — We do the opposite route in a day, leaving Europe in the morning and having dinner in the US.

    These days, technology has greatly improved the safety and comfort on these trips. Our airplanes are equipped with integrated avionics loaded with features such as autothrottle, autoland, envelope protection, emergency descent mode, weather etc via datalink, and satellite communications. 

    Checking winds aloft, METARs and TAFs at your destination, avoiding convective activity with precision, listening to your favourite music from the comfort of your heated seat, making a quick call to loved ones, or even ordering a delicious Sushi dinner delivery as we did on our leg from Narsarsuaq to Reykjavik, are modern extras that range from niceties to potential life-savers (and sushi does fall in the life-saving category after a long day!)

    With vaccinations well on their way, we hope this summer will allow for our normal activities to resume so we can attend Oshkosh in July with a nice group of owners who will most likely want to catch up on their flying.

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